Art of the Earth

By Beacon Staff

People live in and visit Montana for plenty of reasons, but one seems universal: the compulsion to experience some of the best nature has to offer. It’s a human impulse to get closer, to explore the Earth from which we derive life and with which we are in a constant struggle to coexist.

In her 1916 book, “Through Glacier Park,” Mary Roberts Rinehart captured this feeling, writing, “The call of the mountains is a real call… Throw off the impediments of civilization… Go out to the West… Throw out your chest and breathe; look across green valleys to wild peaks where mountain sheep stand impassive on the edge of space. Let the summer rains fall on your upturned face and wash away the memory of all that is false and petty and cruel. Then the mountains will get you. You will go back. The call is a real call.”

It’s no coincidence selections from that quote are written on the wall at the Hockaday Museum of Art, which features art based on Glacier National Park, and the sentiment only bolsters the museum’s upcoming exhibit, “Of the Earth.”

The exhibit, which opens Feb. 28 and runs until April 20, features pieces created from material that is close to the Earth. Liz Moss, Hockaday executive director, curated the exhibit, and called on artists from Montana and across the nation to contribute.

“I’ve been dreaming about doing this show since my daughter, who’s going to be 30, was in a stroller,” Moss said.

The inspiration stems from pushing her daughter’s stroller through the Storm King Art Center in the lower Hudson Valley, a 500-acre woodland landscape with more than 100 sculptures sited throughout.

One of the artists featured there is Andy Goldsworthy, who took the stones landowners used to mark their property lines and created a piece that weaves through the trees and creeks.

Moss said she’s seen more of his work, and it has been a major impetus behind the Of the Earth exhibit.

“We could bring the environmental artists inside,” Moss said.

Local artists featured in the exhibit will include Kate Hunt, who works with newspaper to create sculptures; metalworker David Secrest; and Lee Proctor, who works with glass.

These artists turn what nature has already given us – trees, metal and sand – into their art media, Moss said.

“These folks have really developed the media that they’re using,” she said.

Moss also called on artists from the East Coast who she or curators she knows have worked with in the past, including Maryland-based artist Pamela Rogers.

Rogers has canvases in the show featuring intricate paintings she created with handmade pigment, which she made from plants, soil and minerals.

Jennifer Davies, of Branford, Conn., also contributed pieces for the show. Davies works with fibers and paper to create her art, which can have a light, ethereal feel.

Other artists featured in Of the Earth include: Pamela Caughey, with etched copper plates; nature art sculptor Jeanne Drevas; Donna Loos, with sculptural ceramics; glassworker Richard Parrish; David Scott Smith with sculptural ceramics; and Fred Williamson, a master wood-turner who uses historically significant wood for his pieces.

Moss said she hopes visitors are intrigued by the presentation, drawing on their own feelings about nature and the environment.

“It’s really, really exciting,” she said.

For more information on Of the Earth and the artists represented, visit www.hockadaymuseum.org.

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